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« Juggling Mother Sets up Some Natural Consequences | Main | Unexpected Brilliance »


Kat O+

We only have one present each, too. (Although Santa's tends to be the biggest/most wanted.) The rule was that all kids had to sleep from about 9pm, and our parents would wake us up at midnight after Santa came. We weren't allowed to open any presents beforehand. One year - a particularly trying one, I imagine - we were given coal WITH our presents to remind us that if we didn't behave next year, it was quite possible to get coal and not much else. I don't know if it worked! My brothers and I denied that Santa was FAKE and we were recipients of his largesse until I was well into my twenties (the benefits of having a sibling 10 years younger than I). Now, each sibling and cousin gets a little bag of lollies from "Santa"; only the grandkids get pressies. We all spend Christmas Eve at my parents' place and at midnight, my Dad goes through each present under the tree, calls out whom it's for and general chaos ensues.

I have a large extended family, so this year all the cousins are having a Kris Kringle to keep the cost of gifts down. We're also planning to put together a family calendar (one cousin's picture for each month) to give to each of our parents/aunts/uncles. We're hoping this makes our Christmas shopping less stressful!

This year, I'm planning to do most of my shopping online. It's so much less hassle.


Love your idea. We always knew Santa wasn't real, and I think it was good for me to know that there were people with Real Feelings who had selected these gifts. I also wasn't allowed to play with anything until I had written a thank you note for it, and to this day, I still can't really enjoy anything I haven't thanked someone for. People are always impressed with my thank-you note skillz. Thanks, mom!


We always had one or two main presents from Santa (and the stockings). The rest were from real people. Santa's present was ususally the biggest one. When I was young, Santa always left gifts assembled and unwrapped under the tree. That way my parents could have a few minutes to wake up while we played with Santa toys before pestering them for the rest. That's the way my husband and I are doing it too.

When my mother remarried, her new family didn't leave the Santa gifts unwrapped. Mom was happy, because it was less work for her (She didn't have to assemble ahead of time or hide them, because she could just wrap them up), but I couldn't adjust (I was in college though, so I didn't have to). It just seemed odd. (to me, of course. I'm not judging anyone else)


I think this is perhaps the third or fourth place I've read/heard the idea of having (if anything at all) presents from Santa be few, and less pricey. Since my dh and I neither will "encourage" the Santa myth, I may put out a stocking of goodies for Maya w/o a label. If she happens to decide it's from Santa, no biggie.

SJ-- as someone who struggles with thank you notes, I may have to put your idea into play for my daughter...and myself!

juggling mother

We always had a literal sack full of presents from santa - albeit a sackful of cheap and mostly useful things (raincoats, dressing gowns etc). I never understood why - there were usually 8 or 9 kids to buy for, and both my parents were disabled & didn't work - money really was too tight to mention. She must have spent ALL YEAR buying them!

When I had Mstr A, I made it an absolute that santa would only buy a couple of small cheap things that actually fit into his stocking, and that we would only buy him a maximum of two presents too. Aggie would have gone totally nuts otherwise! It's stood us in good stead as the kids have increased and wages have decreased:-)

Kids have so much stuff nowadays. They really don't need or even want loads more. They can't take it all in.

we also split the present giving. They only get presents from people who are actually physically here on Xmas day. Anyone we are going to see over the holiday period gets to have their present opened in front of them, and anyone else waits till Xmas evening/boxing day.

Mary P

Already a bunch of good ideas! I think I'll take the hints and comments we get, and turn them into a post for next Monday. Thanks for all your input!

Kat - a midnight waking would not suit my earlybird self at all. However, I was quite willing to let the kids wake me at the crack of dawn... Nowadays, they hold back till 6. :-) I've done a bit of online shopping this year - a new idea for me, but so convenient!

Stefanierj - your mother is BRILLIANT! Too bad I didn't get that tip years ago. Somehow I can't see instituting it when my youngest is 13 already... Nuts.

But the rest of you? See Stefanie's tip? Great idea! (Of course, notes are only necessary for people who aren't there to receive your thanks in person, so there would still be lots for them to play with right away!)

ktjrn - Ah, the decoy toys that buy weary parents an extra little while in bed! We do the same with stockings, though now they bring their stockings to my room to open - WITH a cup of tea for mum!

Allison - Santa had a rather odd history in my children's lives. We didn't 'do' Santa at all for a few years. They knew the story of St. Nicholas as the origin of the myth, but they knew there was no such thing as a magical Santa. (Though we had fun playing with the idea: one year, we decided that with all the snow, he'd be better equipped were the sleigh pulled by fire-breathing dragons. Why not?)

With the divorce, my ex decided to do Santa after all, and suddenly, there he was. So my youngest, who was only two and a bit, got Santa in a way her sibs didn't. None of the kids seemed to care one way or the other...

JugglingMother - putting a limit on the number (and/or cost) is a sensible idea. Opening presents only when the giver is present (when this is possible) is also good - and saves on thank-you notes! A tip with double benefits. Well done.


Oh, I forgot earlier. My mom also used to let us celebrate "The 12 days of Christmas" She'd wrap up little things and on the label, she's write "Open me on Dec 15" or whatever day. They were always little Christmas-y things. Like jingle bells for your shoelaces, Christmas socks, or ornaments or something. Christmas Eve, we always got a nightgown. Always. Mom loved Christmas and liked to drag it out. I rememebr the fun of digging through the presents under the tree looking for the one with the right date on it.

Mary P

Ktdjrn - I love that idea. Course, the 12 days of Christmas are the days AFTER the 25th, between Christmas and Epiphany on Jan. 6. But when has a mere technicality been more important than a family tradition? Specially such a fun one!


Oh no, Mary! Thank you notes are a MUST for everyone, even those you thank in person! I don't know what Miss Manners says (though I suspect she'd agree with me), but my mother drilled the etiquette of thank you notes into us from a very early age. We didn't have to write them before we played with our toys, but they had to be written - by hand - no later than one week after receiving a gift. That translated into writing thank you notes for niceties, too.

Our Christmas traditions: one gift opened up on Christmas Eve; Santa brings one gift per child, the rest come from family and friends; Santa doesn't wrap gifts at our house; and thankfully, no one gets up at the crack of dawn in this house! We have sleepers! I don't think we've been up earlier than 8:00 am EVER on Christmas Day.

Kat O+

OK, here's a do you discourage relatives from buying your child/ren superfluous toys? I'm talking about gifts that may be: too big to fit in your apartment; excessively indulgent (when I think of all the nappies I could buy with that money...); "branded" with a group/movie/etc. to which you don't particularly want your child getting any more attached. I know we say the etiquette is for gift-givers to ask parents first, but that doesn't seem to happen in my case so how can I manage them instead? I tried sending a "from the baby" e-mail before Christmas with gift suggestions (with a range of price points) to guide people in the right direction, this something that I just have to learn to live with and be grateful for? (How many years do I have to wait until I can sell them on eBay? *g*)

Mary P

Candace - I believe I got that tidbit of etiquette from Miss Manners herself! So your mom and Miss M. can duke it out, but for me and mine, a heartfelt thank you and a hug are sufficient. If I'm wrong, though, I will happily let Miss Manners be arbiter, and my children will write notes even to those who were thanked in person. I have great admiration for that woman.

KatO+ - the email from baby is a creative and light-hearted response to the dilemma, but if it goes ignored, I think you must needs be gracious. However, gracious doesn't mean you have to be awash in unwanted clutter, either. Show appropriate gratitude for their generosity, then either re-gift, or if you're a non-re-gifter, give them to a women's shelter or children's hospital.

Depending upon the response you feel you might get (no cause to hurt feelings where it can be avoided), you might tell the giver what you've done. "It was such a lovely gift, but we really don't have space for it in our small home, so we decided to pass it on. Those little children in the hospital, who have already suffered so much, truly, truly appreciated it." How could anyone with any feeling be offended??

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